Administrative boundaries and demographic knowledge: General issues and a case-study for Italy
AuthorDalla Zuanna, G; Rossi, F; McDonald, P
Source TitlePopolazione e Storia
PublisherForum Editrice Universitaria Udinese
University of Melbourne Author/sMcDonald, Peter
AffiliationMelbourne School of Population and Global Health
Document TypeJournal Article
CitationsDalla Zuanna, G., Rossi, F. & McDonald, P. (2020). Administrative boundaries and demographic knowledge: General issues and a case-study for Italy. Popolazione e Storia, 21 (1), https://doi.org/10.4424/ps2020-4.
Access StatusOpen Access
This article is divided in two parts. The first part discusses the limits and the potential linked to the availability of data on administrative units, one of the most common data-conditions when dealing with populations of the 19th and 20th centuries. In the second part we examine an articulated example, namely the description and interpretation of fertility differences between two provinces of the Italian Eastern Alps (Trento and Belluno) in 1951-2011. We will see how – in this case – a constraint (the availability of data only in aggregate form, at provincial and municipal level) can be transformed into an opportunity to interpret the demographic behaviors actually available. The contemporary fertility differences between the two counties are due to a more dynamic path of economic development and/or more family-oriented social policies in Trento. These results show that also in the low fertility Italian context, a combination of economic development, decent family allowances and measures aimed at reconciliation between work and family can help some couples to have an additional child. Moreover, although this type of analysis does not give conclusions about the causality typical of experimental and quasi-experimental contexts, a careful use of the data available for administrative units for the present and for the past allows us to make progress in interpreting demographic differences.
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